AgCenter: Weather-Related Losses Hurt LA Sweet Potato Farmers

CHASE, LA (AP) — Louisiana sweet potato growers are experiencing a tough harvest period following record rains that hit the state in August.

         Myrl Sistrunk, LSU AgCenter extension associate in Chase, an unincorporated community in Franklin Parish, said in a news release many growers in north Louisiana took a double hit from wet weather, first in March and again in August.

         Wet weather in the spring had a negative impact on the planting, and the August and early September rains are causing losses during harvest.

         "Every grower is experiencing some amount of potatoes rotting in the fields," Sistrunk said. "Growers in south Louisiana have been impacted worst from the August rains."

         Growers planted more than 9,200 acres of sweet potatoes, down from about 20,000 acres a few years ago, he said.

         More than 30 percent of this year's crop has sustained some damage, the extent of which varies statewide, but Sistrunk is not sure how much prices will be affected.

         About 50 percent of Louisiana's crop has been harvested, and Sistrunk hopes harvest is complete by late November.

         The good news is that about two-thirds of the growers have some form of crop insurance, he said. That will help some, but their current financial situation will determine whether they will stay in the business or get out.



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